Prologue: Ascension Graveyard by Candice Coates

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The Encounter Blog interview with Etta Castle Teague

HL: Greetings from your host, Hard Lines, and welcome to a special edition of The Encounter. Today we have the infamous Etta Castle Teague with us, giving answers to all the hard questions.  Welcome, Etta.
ECT: Thank you for having me. I’d like to thank my host, Hard Lines of The Encounter Blog for giving me this opportunity to share this truth with the world. By the time you all read this, I will either be dead or indulging in sweet victory. In the end, it won’t matter. Knowledge is power and without power we are chattel, and yes, I mean Chattel as in property no different than a couch. But be forewarned as you read, I don’t keep dates, I store memories. Memories make better pictures than numbers. In the end, it’s not really the “when’s” that matter. It’s the “why’s.” It’s in the “why’s” that our actions are understood…
*          *          *

(Greenwich Pass, East Junction Ascension Yard, 27 years ago.)

Her little hand was swallowed up entirely by his. The softness of her skin contrasted greatly with the roughness of his. Uncertain, she pulled her hand away and nuzzled her nose in the synthetic hairs of the blue, stuffed bunny he had just gifted her.

“You like the bunny, Etta?” Crinkle lines formed near his eyes as he attempted a smile. “I made him special for you.” Even though his voice was gentle, kind, there was something in his hazel eyes, something hard and serious. It was almost like a warning.

Etta wrapped her arms tighter around the plush body of the bunny and used its ears to shield her tiny brown face from the swirling grit and dust that began to rise from the dead earth.

She was also shielding her eyes from him—Albert Castle, her paternal grandfather, a stranger. She wasn’t afraid of him, not even with the seriousness in his stare. Besides the one picture her father kept hidden in his sock drawer, she had simply never seen the man before in her entire life. Granted she had only been alive for a few days shy of four years, but to her, for her mother, that was a long time. As it stood with Etta’s father Grant, Albert Castle’s only child, it was not only too long but too late.

Grant had been selected for the Ascension.

Etta kept her head down and her eyes hidden even though she could still see and she certainly could hear. The sounds were all so foreign to her. There was something overhead that she could not see but she could feel it. And there was the strange throbbing hums that seemed to resonate around her from the rows and rows of black coffin-like pods.

Her mother was also crying.


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